Former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan has defended the club’s board, saying they can’t risk the long-term health of the club in the same way their greatest rivals did.
The ex-Scotland manager pointed to Rangers’ financial implosion in 2012 and insisted Parkhead chiefs are merely ensuring similar difficulties are not faced in the East End of the city as they continue to chase the Champions League dream.
Strachan also insisted that Celtic would have defeated AEK Athens on Tuesday night if manager Brendan Rodgers had a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Record signing Odsonne Edouard missed out, while French striker Moussa Dembele was only fit enough for a cameo off the bench. In defence, Kristoffer Ajer was suspended, while Dedryck Boyata was unavailable after his agent declared war on the club in the lead up to the previous match, a 1-0 league defeat against Hearts.
The 2-1 defeat in Athens, which pushes Celtic into the Europa League, led many observers to criticise the club for failing to show the required ambition in the transfer market to make the Champions League group stages.
Strachan, though, defended the pragmatism shown by chief executive Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Celtic Park hierarchy.
He wrote in a column for Paddy Power: “I’ve been there to deal with the board, and they tell you how much you can spend, and you have to stick to that.
“They want to sign players, of course they do, but it’s not always that easy.
“They’re protecting an institution, and they cannot risk it. You saw what happened with Rangers, where they almost lost their club, and Celtic can never put themselves in that position.
“You have to balance between what you can afford and what’s acceptable.
“I do understand where Brendan is coming from. I’ve been there many times, where you think you could do with strengthening.”
With regards to Tuesday’s match, he added: “I sat there, before the match, thinking ‘this isn’t going to be a problem for Celtic’.
“Even when AEK Athens scored early, I still thought Celtic controlled the game, and had a couple of good chances.
“That game was never an issue. There was never anything in the AEK team to give Celtic a real problem.
“On a night when Celtic are finishing better, with a full side, that was a game they would have won, that’s for sure.
“I can’t see Brendan going anywhere. I hope he doesn’t, because Celtic and Brendan Rodgers are a great fit.”